Plastic Free - Recycling and reducing rubbish

Jul 11 2014 0 Comments Tags: plastic, waste

Ironically, this July is the beginning of the end of recycling in the South Burnett Regional Council area.  Yes, you read correctly, from July 2014 we will no longer have curb-side collection of recycling, its all going to landfill.  Not to recycling at the landfill either, we don't even have the option to take our own recycling to the tip, there is simply no facility for it. Essentially our council tricked us into this change.  They sent out a survey and asked if we wanted to pay extra for another bin for recycling.  We were happy with our one split bin - half for rubbish and half for recycling.  Unfortunately the options weren't well explained, and our region didn't vote for the second bin, our council is now only providing one bin for rubbish, no more split bin.  Apparently they are now "looking into" providing recycling facilities at our landfills, but at the moment there is no local recycling options.  More on that in a minute....
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This July Pete and I are taking up the challenge once again to reduce and analyse our single use plastic consumption with Plastic Free July.

Reduce, reuse, recycle
As much as I did like the convinience of recycling, in some ways, having that option taken away does encourage some greater creativity.   Even though it might feel virtuous to put plastic in a recycling bin, in truth we are only ever downcycling (reducing the value of the material), so thinking of solutions to reduce or reuse plastic is better than recycling.  The Plastic Free July challenge will help us to assess our plastic consumption including recycling.  Ultimately we would like to "produce no waste".

Of course, we are going to find that some plastic is unavoidable, and I was quite surprised to see a bin at Coles in Brisbane CBD for recycling thin plastic wrapping (as explained recently by Fiona from Life at Arbordale Farm), and the rest I can put in recycling bins at my rental unit.  I'm going to have to remember to cart it around, so ideally we will keep recycling to a minimum.

this is the recycling bin at Coles

Lining our rubbish bin
One thing that we changed last Plastic Free July that I am very very proud of, is we started lining our rubbish bin with newspaper instead of using rubbish bags!  Most of our rubbish is plastic wrappers anyway.  All food scraps go to the dogs, the chickens or the worm farm, and most everything else can be recycled or burnt.  Our rubbish really isn't very messy, so the newspaper has been great.  On rubbish day, we just take the whole bin out and empty it into the wheelie bin (we only fill one bin a week).  Even since I've been living in Brisbane and Pete has been in charge of Thursday rubbish day, he has kept up this new habit, and I'm so proud of him.  I brought this up at work and one guy said "but we don't buy newspapers"!  That left me stumped for creative ideas, we always have newspapers!  I didn't ask how he lights a woodstove without newspaper (joking!).

Picking up rubbish
I've also developed a habit of picking up bits of plastic rubbish.  We had a steer butchered at the farm and the butcher cut the stomach open in the paddock so we didn't have to bury the whole thing.  The contents of the stomach was mostly grass, but also included several plastic bags and bits of rope!  I have seen photos of sea birds and fish that have swallowed plastic, but I didn't know our farm animals would do the same.  After that I started picking up bits of rubbish around the farm so that the cattle didn't eat them.  Then I started just picking up plastic rubbish in public.  I don't care if people see me, probably 9 out of 10 people think I'm weird, but maybe one person will see me and realise that we can't just leave our rubbish on the ground.  I just tuck the pieces into my pocket, or my bag or hold onto them until I see a bin.

a trip to the farmers market with my reusable bag collection
- including Fregie Sacks (the new ones look slightly different)

How do you reduce your plastic rubbish and recycling?

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